Every year since 2018, we've proclaimed it as the year of Kelvin Harrison Jr.
2022 is no different, and the actor has some extremely high profile projects in the works. He has the role of B.B. King in the upcoming Elvis film and is playing Taka (aka Scar) in Barry Jenkins' The Lion King prequel at Disney. He's also wrapped production on the Chevalier 'Black Mozart' biopic and just recently, signed on to reteam with his Luce director Julius Onah for a Jean-Michel Basquiat biopic. The 27-year-old actor is actually so in demand, he had to pull out of Euphoria season 2 due to scheduling conflicts.
And now, here we are, in February 2022, as he's starting this year off with the musical film 'Cyrano,' opposite Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett.
Cyrano is actually the latest in a string of musical-oriented projects for Harrison, including works such as Godfather of Harlem and The High Note. The actor believes he’s drawn to these projects just as much they’re drawn to him.
“I think everything plays off of what you’re looking for next,” he explained to Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “It starts with Godfather of Harlem, actually. When I did that, I did that because I wanted to do a TV show. I wanted to work with Forest [Whitaker] and I wanted to play into my music side of myself.”
He says his 'Godfather of Harlem' performance immediately led him to The High Note.
“When you’re looking at, ‘OK, well, if Tracee Ellis Ross is cast, who can play Tracee Ellis Ross’ son?” and you get the list of actors to go to…once again, I wasn’t the first or the second choice, I was like the third choice for The High Note [laughs]. So that comes into play,” said the all too humble actor. Then of course, that role led him to Cyrano.
“They wanted to diversify the cast, so I think that was the other element to it…itwas like who could come in, sing the songs [and] who had a history with doing it. But also, who could pull off this romantic guy that was kind of goofy? And they were like, ‘Yeah, Kelvin Harrison Jr.’ I don’t know if I’m flattered or not though [laughs].”
Remaining booked and busy year after year, Harrison joked that “bills to pay” and “rent” are main reasons– “I’d love be like, ‘On a more serious note…’ but that is a pretty serious note [laughs].”
“But on a more playful note, honestly, I just love it. I’m really interested, every phase of my life, my whole twenties, my whole young adult life has been in this business. I turned 21 and I’ve been working ever since, and I don’t really know anything else. It’s been my college, it’s been my life experiences. It’s been my culture. It’s been learning about who I am as a Black person. Just learning who I am as a man. It’s learning, and I think I never liked school, but I did like research, I did like studying stuff, I do love people. And so I think every project, I just can’t get enough of it. I’m honestly addicted to my job, and I need to go to rehab maybe [laughs].”
On 'Cyrano' specifically, Harrison believes it has massive appeal to musical fans and non-musical fans alike, in that it really isn't like a traditional musical-- which the actor calls "the most beautiful thing" about the film.
“It’s kind of like it eases on you and it really is more so about the storytelling, and I just think that especially since we just came off a Valentine’s Day and everyone’s riding the end of that wave, this is the perfect movie to sit into and reflect on,” he said. “If you’re single, what is it that’s blocking you from being with the person you love? The only thing that’s stopping us from living our best lives in that way, romantically, even with our family, is ourselves. That’s what this movie is about. It’s about us getting in our own way and stopping ourselves from achieving this beautiful, romantic love story that we all deserve.”
Cyrano is in theaters now.
Check out the full interview for the entire conversation with Harrison in which he also chats about what he's watching right now.